To drive or train round the deep south

Old Oct 8th, 2003, 04:15 AM
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To drive or train round the deep south

Hi There!

I'm hoping you can help with a dilemma we've got!

We're planning to spend around 6 weeks in Florida and the South!

We'e planning in doing a tour starting from Miami (3 nights) and taking in Orlando (8 nights) then going over to New Orleans (4 nights) with 2 planned stopovers on the way. From there up to Memphis (2 nights) up to Nashville over to Atlanta then down by Savannah and Jacksonsville then back down into Florida ending up back in Miami!!

We were planning on driving, however, looking at the cost it could be quite pricey to hire a car over this time. Although this is our ideal way, we have looked into the rail pass for the East which is valid for 30 days with unlimited stopovers!

Our only concern is that although cheaper it may not cover the areas in which we want to go.

Has anyone got any comments to help us out!!

You're help would be welcome!

Cheers

sam_x is offline  
Old Oct 8th, 2003, 05:20 AM
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I'm not certain whether you're already a US resident and familiar with our trains and public mass transit or if perhaps you'll be here from another conutry as a visitor. Assuming that you are from elsewhere.... here's the dilemma:

The train system (Amtrak) in the US does not offer the extended coverage to smaller communities that you may be accustomed to in the UK, France or elsewhere. This is a very large conuntry interms of geographic area and the development of comm unities has very much grown around automobiles as a primary means of transport. In some major cities, the train station may be in a central downtown location but in many mid sized cities, the train stations have been moved to the suburbs or at least out of the city center. Also, in some cases, if the station is in the city center it may be in a somewhat marginal area.

If you choose to use the train there will be substantial extra transportation costs for cabs, it will be less efficient and far more time consuming and may cause you to miss many of the wonderful sights and smaller towns along the way.

Cost of a rental car may not be cheap but if you're dropping the car back off where you originally rented it you'll avoid the drop-off charges. Shop around - you may get a better deal than you think.

Do your research - if all of your sightseeing will be in city centers where walking or tour buses/trolleys are the best means of transport and the train stations on your stops tend to be in the city center.... perhaps it will be workable. I'd be inlcined to see a car as the best choice.
Owen_ONeill is offline  
Old Oct 8th, 2003, 05:33 AM
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I agree that car offers you the most convenient and flexible way to see the south. I don't know about Jacksonville, but I personally love all of the other cities you're planning to see, especially New Orleans and Savannah.

There's good train coverage between New Orleans and Memphis, but other than that I don't know...

Once you get your final itinerary, let us know and we'll give you suggestions of places to stay and eat! Have a great time!
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Old Oct 8th, 2003, 06:22 AM
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From what I see at amtrak.com you can take the Palmetto from Miami to Winter Haven, FL, then the Sunset Limited to Orlando and on to Jacksonville and New Orleans. From there, N.O., you can take the (train they call) City of New Orleans to Memphis or the Crescent to Atlanta. From Memphis, you can go on to Chicago, according to the song. So, it doesn't look like there is rail travel from Memphis to Nashville or Nashville to Atlanta or Atlanta to Savannah/Jacksonville unless you go from Atlant back to N.O.
mrwunrfl is online now  
Old Oct 8th, 2003, 06:50 AM
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Hi Sam -- click on my author/screen name & refer to my trip report entitled "Southern Exposure Trip Report -- Long!!" It will give you some ideas re interesting places to visit. I did not visit Florida this time. I did use a rental car the whole way.
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Old Oct 8th, 2003, 10:44 AM
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Sam,

My wife and I did a 3 week tour 4 years ago, and took a car for the reasons mentioned - many of the places we wanted to see were more accessible this way.

We flew into MCO from Glagow and stayed 4 nights - travelling on to Savannah for a further 2. Then to Atlanta (2), Chattanooga (2), Nashville (2), Memphis (2), New Orleans (2), Tallahassee (1) and Dunedin (3).

We only booked the 1st nights in Orlando and New Orleans in advance - for all others we simply checked into a mid range hotel on arrival.

6 weeks would be a fantastic length to stay - giving you far more time to spend in each of your chosen locations.

It may be more expensive to hire the car for a full six weeks - but given the convenience it offers I'd be willing to pay that.
Also, as Owen has mentioned, you'll need to add on a substantial cost for taxis throughout your stay - so the final comparison between car and rail may not be all that great.

Brian
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